As bodybuilders, the first thing we need to understand is what is going on with our bodies when we’re taking anabolic steroids. Exogenous anabolic hormones (or derivatives of anabolic hormones) are being brought into your system. This causes the body to take a number of responsive actions. The first and foremost (as you already know) is increased muscle mass. Unfortunately, other things are also going on that aren’t so great.
When an enzyme or hormone is brought into the system, chemical balances shift around to attain a certain equilibrium. In a nutshell, your body will increase production of estrogen, cortisol, and other hormones in response to heightened testosterone levels, while simultaneously slowing (or completely stopping) natural production of testosterone. Biologists call this negative feedback.
Natural testosterone production relies on a feedback system; when your brain detects that natural testosterone levels fall below a certain point, it signals the testes to produce more testosterone. This is called the Hypothalamic Testicular Pituitary Axis (HPTA). Natural testosterone production happens when the hypothalamus gland in the brain detects that testosterone levels in the blood go below a certain point (this point can vary with individual people). When it detects this, it sends a message to the testicles to tell them to start producing testosterone. When there is enough testosterone released into the system, the process stops until levels fall again. This process happens all the time during a normal day (assuming you have no medical condition that interferes with or prevents it).
Why is this important?
When you take anabolic steroids your body detects that your testosterone levels have risen and it switches off natural production while levels remain high. If natural production is switched off for a long time, such as a typical cycle, it can take some time before the body starts to produce it again naturally. In some cases, natural production can be extremely difficult to restore.
The longer you are on-cycle, the more likely you will have problems re-starting natural production (this is what users call “shut down”). The longer you are in this state, the more muscle mass you will likely lose and the harder it may become to restart natural testosterone production. This is the reason that it is important to recover your own natural hormonal levels quickly and lose far less of the gains you worked so hard for on the cycle. High estrogen levels play an integral part in Post Cycle therapy (PCT). That’s right, you want to welcome high estrogen with open freaking arms, but there’s a trick to it. And that trick is the almighty SERM (Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator).
SERM’s: the foundation of post cycle therapy.
Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators are the foundation for any proper post-cycle therapy plan. A post cycle therapy plan without them isn’t a PCT plan. The purpose of a SERM is to block the negative effects estrogen, while your hormone levels go back to equilibrium.
Types of Post Cycle Therapy drugs?
Typically, people will use any or all of these drugs (Tamoxifen, Clomiphene and HCG) to help restart natural testosterone production. It is not advised to start post-cycle therapy until your testosterone levels drop below your natural level.
The different SERM’s:
- Reputation: Most popular SERM for post cycle therapy
- Pros: Effective for gyno prevention.
- Cons: Heptatoxicity
- Popular Dosage (for a 4-week cycle): 40/40/20/20
- Reputation: Second most popular. Usually taken the first week or so to speed up Testosterone recovery with Tamoxifen being taken the whole therapy.
- Pros: Better than Tamoxifen for HTPA regernation. Less heptatoxicity.
- Cons: Less effective against gyno. Can cause emotional issues.
- Popular Dosage (for a 4-week cycle): 100-200mg/100mg/50mg/50mg
3) HCG(Human Chorionic Gonadotropin):
- Reputation: Used in conjunction with SERMS. Best results seen in medium to long cycles.
- Pros: Used to stimulate testosterone production in men.
- Cons: Not to be used with signs of gyno as it can worsen the situation.
- Popular dosage(last 4 weeks of cycle): 2000 IU/week, with 500 IU 4x/week, or 250 IU/dayor 500 IU every other day (these come to 1750 IU/week)